Friday, February 02, 2007

The Wisdom of Molly

No writer of my generation has gifted me with more "laugh-out-loud, tears in my eyes" moments than Molly Ivins. Only Garrison Keillor even comes close.

Reading about Molly's death at the age of 62 this week saddened me. And it reminded me how blessed I've been by writers who first came into my life when I was in my 20's in Minneapolis. Both Molly and Garrison were there.

Although I never met her then, Molly was a brand new reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune. I was a lowly intern in the advertising department of the paper, confined to pasting "lean, meaty spare rib" clipart into ads for a corner market (while finishing my Journalism degree at the U. of M.). In the confines of the news department (where "ad guys" were banned from entering), Molly was covering, in her words, "the uproar of the late 60s -- the antiwar movement, black riots, angry women. It was a wonderful time." As for Garrison, though I can't recall seeing him around the J-School, word was that he was seen there too on occasion (though one of those notorious English majors!).

Guess I've been reading Molly's syndicated column in various newspapers for nearly 25 years. No telling how many laughs I've enjoyed as she took on every politician (and all of Texas) in her columns. People seemed to either love her or hate her as she smacked the egos of (mostly men) in Washington and Austin. And the "Bushies" were her favorites these past few years. Some of her humorous looks at the weirdness of Texas (where I traveled for business too many times in the '80s) were among the best. Last night, on the PBS News Hour, they replayed a story she did for them on Texas fine "ort" (pronounced "art" by non-Texans) back in 1986. If you didn't see it, here's a link to the video (a "must see" if you're ready for some serious laughs):

Remembering Molly Ivins

Yesterday's Oregonian offered a fine tribute to Molly by her friend and editor, Anthony Zurcher. I especially liked what he said about Molly's wisdom:

"For me, Molly's greatest words of wisdom came with three children's books she gave my son when he was born. In her inimitable way, she captured the spirit of each in one-sentence inscriptions. In "Alice in Wonderland," she offered, "Here's to six impossible things before breakfast." For "The Wind in the Willows," it was, "May you have Toad's zest for life." And in "The Little Prince," she wrote, "May your heart always see clearly."

Like the Little Prince, Molly Ivins has left us for a journey of her own. But while she was here, her heart never failed to see clear and true -- and for that, we can all be grateful."

If you'd like to read the full tribute, here's a link (to the San Francisco Chronicle version):

Goodbye, Molly

I was also pleased to read Garrison Keillor's tribute (and poem) about Molly on his blog today. It offers a link to much more about her life and work at the Texas Observer -- well worth a look if you're a fan of this larger-than-life, feisty woman with that unmistakable drawling voice:

The Texas Observer

What a wonderful legacy of writing you left us, dear Molly. Thank you for all the laughs, for your outrage at the "(p)ills" of our politics, and for speaking from your heart with a strong, clear (husky!) voice. I will miss you.
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